Paul Deller returns to Frameless Gallery with Spectrals, an exhibition of collages that delves into fractals and spectrums. The Black Bubbleicious, Deller’s first solo exhibition at the gallery was about making a statement, arriving at this black motif that repeats through the exhibition in variations. It was seductive, elusive, Deller’s own ace of spades. Spectrals takes you to a new territory, it is a pared down affair. Yet, this change of pace feels natural. Material and process has been a constant and lends to this familiarity. Fabric samples, colour swatches, book covers, wrappings, papers of all sorts find their way into the frame in an intuitive, organic, rhythmic manner. Here Deller introduces colour, through an unrefined and raw spectrum. In the layers and crudeness of material, it becomes an assertive palette.
There is so much to gather from how an artist’s practice evolves. The pace, the cycle of themes, ideas, techniques and diversions that come through are revealing and sometimes obvious. During student days at Central St. Martins in the late 80’s under Alan Reynolds, Deller was influenced by early Modernists. In the YBA years, he continued working with systematic and repetitive motifs, occasionally using found material, on large canvases. Through these ‘statement’ years, Deller took refuge in collages and there lies the essence of his practice today.
In the 90’s, when it was desired, a career as an artist was elusive. Yet, as an art teacher and since becoming the Head of Art at an Independent school in 2001, Deller found enough space within the structure to make art and think with clarity of his work. There is something grounded about his practice that comes from years of talking about art – ‘farming artists’ – to students and constantly engaging with it from a teacher’s point of view. It has enabled a reassuring and nonchalant stance that only comes from the comfort of being able to trust one’s instincts. Spectrals, on many levels, is immersed in this energy. Stripped bare, vulnerable, flawed yet endearing, reflective and dare I say, beautiful.
Deller works quickly with material found or given, collected over the years. He is drawn to off cuts, playing with progressive layers and reveling in the history of the material.
In the fluidity of making, there are many considered elements that bring the series together, like the linen background and found frames.
There are accidental triumphs too, like finding an unexpected colour under a ripped paper that takes the series into a territory that Deller hadn’t anticipated.
The exhibition is a review of a rudimentary act and it is in the restrain that works so humble, so quiet comes out in triumphs. In the subtlety of colour and the rawness of materials, the collage in its quiet, poignant way finds a place in Art today. In polarities, Deller has been able to harness the undercurrent and create harmony. He creates a spectrum of possibilities. An altar in itself.